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Roni-Sue’s Chocolates, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Exit9 Coming to New Essex Street Market

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Rhonda Kave in her former stall at the Essex Street Market. November 2014.
Rhonda Kave in her former stall at the Essex Street Market. November 2014.

Three popular Lower East Side businesses are joining the new Essex Street Market when it debuts in a newly expanded space at 115 Delancey St. this coming fall. Among them is Roni-Sue’s Chocolates, which gave up a stall in the current market in 2016. The other additions are Sugar Sweet Sunshine, the Rivington Street bakery; and Local Line by Exit9, an outpost of the longtime Avenue A gift shop.

The 78-year-old market is moving from its 1940s-era building to a larger facility in the Essex Crossing development project. The 24 existing vendors will all be shifting over to the new space, along with 12 new merchants. The Economic Development Corp., which operates the market, has been announcing the new businesses in batches.

Roni-Sue’s Chocolates was one of the first businesses to take a chance on the Essex Street Market when it was on the upswing a decade ago. She started the candy store from scratch in 2007, making chocolate from a tiny stall in the back of the market. Owner Rhonda Kave had opened a larger shop and production facility on Forsyth Street in 2013. A couple of years ago, she shuttered the Essex Market outpost, which had become difficult to sustain as foot traffic slumped.  Now Kave is returning to her roots, while keeping the main shop at 148 Forsyth open.

In a statement today, she said, “This year Roni-Sue’s Chocolates will celebrate our 11th anniversary by coming full circle, returning to our roots in the Essex Market–we’re so excited to be a part of this unique community of merchants again! I’ve missed that little village of characters and craftspeople, folks who gave me encouragement and support while I reinvented myself as a professional chocolatier.” Kave added, “I can’t wait to welcome old friends and long time customers, new LES neighbors and visitors to taste and experience our chocolates and confections as we make them right onsite at the new Essex Market.”

File photo/2010.
Debbie Weiner and Peggy Williams of Sugar Sweet Sunshine, 2010.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine has been a fixture at 126 Rivington St. since 2003. The community-oriented shop, owned by Debbie Weiner and Peggy Williams, specializes in cupcakes, but they also make specialty cakes and pies, and other sweet treats. They’ll be keeping their existing shop while expanding to the market.

“As owners of Sugar Sweet Sunshine, we have worked to stay true to the same values as the Essex Market; being accessible to all members of this community and owner-operated, face-to-face customer service, said Weiner and Williams. “We are truly honored to be welcomed into the community of the Essex Street Market and excited to share some sugar Sweet sunshine with both new and long-time residents of the LES.”

Exit9 Gift Emporium has been located in the East Village since 1995. The Essex Market satellite will offer locally made and designed gifts, food and mementos. Owner Charles Branstool said, “We started adding locally made and designed items at Exit9 several years ago as a way to support the local maker economy. Now, Local Line will be our fun, locally-focused shop with a subtle message about the power of shopping local.”

New market under construction. Photos ny NYC EDC.
New market under construction. Photos ny NYC EDC.

Previously the city announced the following new vendors would be coming to the new Essex Street Market:  Samesa, a contemporary Middle Eastern takeaway counter from sibling chefs Max and Eli Sussman; Josephine’s Feast!, a New York-based producer of artisanal jams and preserves; Saffron, a Fort Green-based florist; Flower Power Herbs and Roots, a branch of the herbal apothecary shop located on East Ninth Street; Chinatown Ice Cream Factory; Essex Shambles, an offshoot of the butcher shop Harlem Shambles; and Zerza, a new concept from the owner of the defunct Moroccan spot Zerza on East Sixth Street).

Earlier today we posted a story about efforts now underway by the vendor association to make sure the market retains its authenticity and low prices when it moves to the new facility. A recent survey showed that many longtime residents are concerned about that.

The current market will remain open until the new facility is ready sometime this coming fall.

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